Wednesday, March 25, 2009


We should all take a moment to observe the passing of Vince Lascheid, organist for the Pirates, who died the other day at eighty-five. (Do read the obituary, which describes the classic kind of meandering career path of a mid-century popular instrumentalist. Did you know he was succeeded in the Glen Miller Band at one point by Henry Mancini?) I always liked that Three Rivers Stadium (and PNC Park, to a lesser extent) kept up with the cornball goodness of organ music to a greater than usual degree, and Lascheid's goofy play-on-words batter fanfares were certainly a big part of the enjoyment. For everyone from Pittsburgh of our generation, part of the experience of going to the ballpark was your dad explaining that a particular tune was the theme to the Dick Van Dyke show and pointing out how "Dick Van Dyke" kind of sounded like "Andy Van Slyke." That all will be missed.
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I forget how I came across this now, but Roger Ebert of all people composed a pretty compelling blog post a couple of weeks ago about the irritating popularity of snarking about movies and pop culture. I'm with him all the way. Not that I consume a lot of pop culture, but there's a depressing amount of snark out there attached lamprey-like to our already depressing celebrity culture. Snark seems to be designed to be a cheap substitute for actual cleverness, and as such I hate it as a twist on anti-intellectualism. Also, contempt is to snark what corn syrup is to Coke, and I think contempt is always and everywhere a corrosive emotion that should only be applied (with no exceptions for triviality!) defensively against other people's contempt. Anyway, if you want something more than my highly unspecific cultural diatribe, read Ebert. Apparently he was inspired by a recent book on the subject by David Denby, which perhaps I'll look for at the library.
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I watched Dr. No on DVD for the first time a couple weekends ago. It takes a while to build up steam, but once it gets into the Inscrutable Supervillain and His Self-Destructing Secret Island Base territory, make yourself a second bowl of popcorn. Actually I think it kind of redeems Austin Powers, for the double-bank-shot humor it provides as you reverse-engineer the parody references. (Note: Austin Powers 2 and 3 exempt from redemption. Note to note: This is not snark, I mean it with very literal sincerity.) Parts of it are kind of borderline racist, but, um, looking at it another way that's kind of borderline not racist, so hey, good effort!
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I'm not sure the extent to which the technological/economic locus of instability in academic publishing interests anyone else here, but there's some interesting news about the University of Michigan Press moving into distributing digital-only monographs (and also being reorganized as a division of the university's library) that has the possible look of a broader future to it.
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A couple of weeks ago Pete had brought up the topic of vegetarianism again, and I meant to definitively close out the topic with some commentary by philosophizer and academically trained French person Jacques Derrida. Let's go to the tape:
Q: But how do you reconcile a concern for being compassionate toward animals with the necessity for humans to eat meat?
A: It is not enough to stop eating meat in order to become a non-carnivore. The unconscious carnivorous process has many other resources, and I do not believe in the existence of the non-carnivore in general. Even in the case of someone who believes he can limit himself to bread and wine. (I confront this question more effectively, I believe, when I speak of the necessary deconstruction of "carno-phallogocentrism.") Even if we didn't already know this since long ago, at least for two thousand years, psychoanalysis would teach us that "vegetarians," like everyone else, can also incorporate, symbolically, something living, something of flesh and blood—of man and of God. Atheists, too, still like to "eat the other." At least if they love, for it is the very temptation of love. A thought here for Kleist's Penthesilea. She was one of the major figures of a seminar I gave a few years ago on that very subject: "Eating the other."
I believe that clears up that particular question. Next topic!


Blogger Pete said...

WTF, Derrida, WTF.

3/26/2009 3:50 PM  
Blogger nate said...

Ditto on Vince Lascheid. Kyle and I saw an Oregon Ballet Theater rendition of Slaughter on Tenth Avenue last fall, which had me struggling to identify which tune from that Richard Rodgers score was the one that Lascheid used to announce onetime Pirates catcher Don Slaught. I also recall Lascheid got mentioned in a Sports Illustrated sidebar item some years back for hurting the feelings of visiting ballplayer / Viagra spokesperson Rafael Palmeiro by playing "Pop Goes The Weasel" when he was up to bat.

Re: Derrida's "It is not enough to stop eating meat in order to become a non-carnivore", I wish that when I was in college and actually had to read trace amounts of his work that I'd been able to recognize how many of his statements are, as Jack might put it, borderline not self parody.

3/26/2009 8:14 PM  

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